Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come!
A month after revealing the 109 Best Buy winners of the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021, in association with Sevenoaks Sound and Vision (opens in new tab), we have today decorated 26 of them – one from each product category – with the even more prestigious Product of the Year accolade at our annual awards ceremony in London.
Product of the Year winners represent the very best products across all the review categories we cover, from TVs to turntables, speakers to streamers, and everything in between.
The full list of 26 Product of the Year winners can be found below, as can the winners of our five special awards: the Readers' Award, Temptation Award, Innovation of the Year Award, Outstanding Contribution Award and the 2021 addition to the What Hi-Fi? Hall of Fame. And remember, the special Awards issue of the magazine will be on sale from tomorrow (Thursday 4th November), both in shops and online (opens in new tab).
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The Sound United representative for Denon and Marantz got his steps in this evening as he walked on stage multiple times to collect multiple awards. The Marantz CD6007 once again wins the Product of the Year gong in the CD player category, while the matching stereo amplifier, the Marantz PM6007, becomes the latest member of our Hall of Fame for the consistent excellence of the generations of 6000 Series models. The Denon AVC-X3700H is another repeat POY winner, continuing to be the most compelling buy in the home cinema amplifier market.
Cambridge Audio is another brand that picked up both Product of the Year and special awards this year. The Cambridge Audio CXA81 is, to our eyes, still the most appealing stereo amplifier for the money. And the fresh-faced Evo 75 streaming amplifier wins this year's Readers' Award, as voted by you – and a fine choice too, we'd like to add.
Apple may be settling for a Best Buy rather than a Product of the Year in the smartphone category for a second year running, in light of Sony's excellent Xperia 1 III this time, but it doesn’t leave today’s prize-giving empty-handed. Far from it. This year's update to the Apple 4K TV may be rather mild (defined by a lovely new remote, faster processor and incremental improvements to picture and sound), but that's enough to keep it at the top of the video streamer game. The Apple iPad Air (2020), meanwhile, is, to quote our review, "all the tablet most people could ever need" and thus wins the Product of the Year in the tablet category.
Having built its enterprise on innovation, Apple is somewhat fittingly the recipient of our 2021 Innovation of the Year special award, too. Here we specifically recognise its spatial audio technology, which has been effectively implemented in both the music and, to a more impressive extent, TV show and movie space, giving content an (often unique) immersive boost.
In addition to its smartphone Product of the Year, Sony builds on its annually growing haul of What Hi-Fi? Awards with another POY win in the all-important wireless headphones category with its premium wireless noise-cancelling over-ears, the WH-1000XM4 – our Hall of Fame 2020 entrant, no less. And the Sony HT-A7000 has swooped in on the Sonos Arc in 2021 to claim the Product of the Year in the soundbar category, having left us awestruck by its ability to deliver powerful and muscular room-filling Dolby Atmos from a single soundbar.
While several 2020 POY winners have batted away new competition in the past 12 months to keep their titles this year – the superb KEF LS50 Meta in the standmounter speaker category, the resilient Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 in the turntable category, and the wonderful Chord Qutest in the DAC category, to name just a few – we'd like to call out a few more brand-spanking-new Product of the Year winners for 2021, if we may.
Philips has had a blinder in the What Hi-Fi? Awards TV category this year – not least as its 48OLED806 48-inch OLED TV has overwhelmed the usual suspects to win the POY award for being the choice pick in this burgeoning TV type. "It’s simply the best picture around at this most convenient of sizes," notes our review.
In our floorstanders speaker category, newly split away from stereo speakers, the apex of achievements goes to the "refined, entertaining and affordable" Wharfedale Diamond 12.3, while the Bluesound Node (2021) brushes aside the Audiolab 6000N Play to claim the accolade in the music streamers sphere. Tivoli returns to the What Hi-Fi? Awards in style with its multi-talented, radio-redefining Model One Digital Generation 2 in the radio category; Grado improves on, well, itself with the all-new SR325x wired headphones; and Disney+ has controversially overshone Netflix by offering an ever-increasing catalogue of child- and adult-friendly content in a polished, comprehensive and tech-savvy service.
We'd like to end with our Outstanding Contribution special award, which this year goes to Tetsuya Itani, who has enjoyed a long and illustrious career at Technics. He was involved with the development of the company’s first CD player, the SL-SP10; was instrumental in the design of various Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray players for Panasonic (Technics’ parent company); and has overseen the development of a series of class-leading products that have helped to establish the company as one of the market’s core hi-fi brands once more.
And that's all, folks – well, nearly. You can see all 26 Product of the Year winners and those who took home our five special awards below. Congratulations to all the winning brands of both Best Buy and Product of the Year trophies, and happy browsing (and, let's face it, shopping), dear readers!
All 26 What Hi-Fi? 2021 Product of the Year winners
Best standmount speaker
KEF LS50 Meta
Best floorstanding speaker
Wharfedale Diamond 12.3
Rega Planar 3/Elys 2
Best wireless speaker
Naim Mu-so Qb 2
Best wired headphones
Best wireless headphones
Best Blu-ray player
Best music streamer
Bluesound Node (2021)
Best CD player
Tivoli Model One Digital Generation 2
Best speaker package
Dali Oberon 5 5.1
Apple iPad Air (2020)
Best video streamer
Apple TV 4K (2021)
Best stereo amplifier
Cambridge Audio CXA81
Best home cinema amplifier
AudioQuest Rocket 11
Best set-top box
Best multi-room system
Sony Xperia 1 III
Best portable music player
Astell & Kern A&norma SR25
KEF LS50 Wireless II
Best streaming service
The five What Hi-Fi? 2021 special awards
Cambridge Audio Evo 75
Hall of Fame
Innovation of the Year
Apple spatial audio
Linn Klimax DSM AV